Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Healing Waters of Harbin Hot Springs

Last week I had the opportunity to go to the Bay Area to give a talk on Creating Happiness in the Face of Setbacks at the Yoga of Sausalito and be interviewed on the radio by my good friends Julie and Martin Matthews who have a weekly show called Reality Sandwich on KPOO in San Francisco.  Julie and Martin are the founders of Healthful Living an organization the promotes a lifestyle of health, healing and happiness of all living things.  

To listen to my radio interview click here.

It was an extraordinary opportunity to share the story of my spinal cord in
jury and the transformation that has occurred in my life from this life changing experience.  I spoke about the lessons I have learned about creating happiness in the face of challenging circumstances and conditions.  

Fundamentality, the essence of my talk is that happiness occurs when we are present to the moment at hand.  Suffering happens when we get caught up in our attachments to that which we don't have or trying to avoid that which is so.  By accepting that which is we are n
o longer fighting with reality and we can truly appreciate the present of here and now.  

As I have said before, the past is history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a gift.  So enjoy the present because really that is all we truly have.  I know this may easier said than done but with mindful practice happiness can be a consistent experience.  Gratitude is the key.  You can always find something to be grateful for no matter what.  Love others without condition or expectation and you will find that love will fill your being and attract that which you desire.

In addition I was able to spend three days at Harbin Hot Springs one of the oldest and most beautiful hot springs in California.  I have been going to Harbin for almost ten years now and it has been for me truly one of the most healing and magical places on Earth.  Harbin is situated about two hours North of San Francisco on over 1600 acres of pristine underdeveloped woodland.

Since my injury I have been fortunate to visit Harbin with the assistance of my good friends Siddhartha and Gayatri whom I met in India just two weeks before my life transforming event. Together they teach Living Somatics around the world and are two of the most loving compassionate human beings I know.

One of the main draws of coming to Harbin is experiencing the amazing healing waters.  Because of my limited mobility the only way I am able to get into the pools is with the help of my friends.  So I am forever grateful for their friendship and the ability I have to still benefit from this incredible place!

Harbin is famous for offering an unique form of aquatic bodywork called Watsu developed by Harold Dull.  Watsu is a form of Zen Shaitsu that is performed in warm water instead of on land.  Warm water's theraputic benefits and freeing of movement make it an ideal medium for passive stretching.  The support of water provides takes weight off the vertebrae and allows the spine to be moved in ways impossible on land.  Gentle, gradual twists and pulls relieve the pressure of a rigid spine and helps to undo any dysfunction this pressure causes to organs serviced by those nerves.

Being paralyzed from a spinal cord injury Watsu offers me an amazing experience to release the low back pressure of sitting vertical and unwind the tension accumulated by my injury.  Being in the warm water allow my body to surrender completely to gravity and move with grace and ease under the skilled hands of a Watsu practitioner.  Through sound and breath I could feel the trauma of my injury begin to leave my body and my nervous system begin to reorganize to a higher state of function.

I was fortunate enough to work with Sunheart, a senior Watsu practitioner, in the private pools of the Harbin Domes where the School of Shiatsu and Massage is located.  Durning our two hour long sessions together I experienced a powerful release of bodily tension and trauma and began to feel energy steaming down my legs and hands and back up through my legs into my spine.  I felt like we were engaging in an ancient healing ritual and was learning how to heal my body by moving energy through my spine and nervous system through movement, breath and sound.  The experience was deeply shamanic and transformative.  I am excited to continue exploring this healing modality at a local watsu center here in Southern California.

I am left with the image of looking up into the trees and sky while being floated in the healing water by my beautiful loving friends and feeling my soul become one with everything in the universe.  It is true that indeed we are all One and the illusion is that we are separate. 

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Blogger Sara said...

Hello Rafe - I'd like to include your posting on my new blog about aquatic bodywork. Probably as part of a forthcoming blog carnival I am hosting (http://www.aquapoetics.com/2008/10/aquatic-healing-blog-carnival.html) Would that be OK? If so please contact me through my site.

October 18, 2008 at 5:48 PM  

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